Amongst John McDonnell's supporters are a number of Trotskyists. That I can see, they have had no input into policy or the strategy of the campaign, but have been happy to get involved and help with organising and campaigning. I've been following the lively discussion about this today, and was pleased to discover that the new incarnation of the Militant Tendency are not involved because they've decided to set up their own party instead - good riddance.
Unlike people who want to re-enact the 1980's now in 2006 by focusing on the internal fights in the Labour Party, I don't think that it is a good idea to turn anyone away who is an effective campaigner and able to work with other members of the Labour Party in a comradely manner, and I know plenty of people who happen to be Trotskyists who are like that. If their analysis involves an end goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but along the way they help Labour win elections and get new people involved, then for the forseeable future that is fine, and they can shoot me or whatever at the appropriate moment of the class struggle.
Any left-wing challenger for the leadership has two very different groups of people that she or he needs to appeal to. One is to win back to Labour people who have become disaffected, and the other is people who are still Labour, but who would like to see a more left-wing leadership. There is inevitably a tension here, because people who have left Labour often think that anyone who is still involved must be a total Blairite and therefore resistant to hearing from a leftie Labour campaigner, and people who have worked hard and stayed loyal to Labour equally understandably resent being ignored by a candidate who seems more interested in courting people who deserted Labour.
Both groups are crucial to our success in the General Election - we need to win back people who have stopped voting Labour since 1997, while also not losing the support of the people whose hard work has kept Labour going in recent years. It is a difficult balance to keep, and the decision about how to relate to Trotskyists is a part of it.
One thing that I would be interested in is what people who might consider voting for John McDonnell, or who generally find that they are closer on policy issues to him than Gordon Brown, but aren't planning to vote for McDonnell, think about all this. What, specifically, would persuade you to vote for McDonnell - is the problem that you are not convinced that he could win a General Election, that his election would split the party, that he is under the thumb of the far left, that you don't like a particular policy that he has, or a combination of these and other things?